Edmonton Transit Service launches on demand service and redesigned bus routes
EDMONTON -- Sunday marks a new chapter for Edmonton’s transit network.
The new bus network redesign, removing 100 routes and increasing frequency of buses, officially launches Sunday. As well, the new Mill Woods Transit Centre and On Demand Transit were put into operation.
According to the city, the new $17.4 million Mill Woods transit facility was completed on time and on budget. The new facility includes a covered walkway connecting transit riders to the nearby Mill Woods stop along the Valley Line southeast LRT.
The city expects the Valley Line to open later this year.
In a press conference announcing the start of the new bus network and opening of the new transit centre, Mayor Don Iveson said Edmonton has not redesigned its bus network in two decades.
“Since then, the way people move around has changed significantly,” he added. “It is an exciting day for Edmonton.”
For him, the new redesign will allow for faster, hassle-free, and safer ways for Edmontonians to get around while using public transit.
“I am confident that people will ultimately find this new network more convenient, accessible, and reliable.”
The redesign project for Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) buses was first unveiled in 2019 after five years and $3 million in research to improve bus route efficiency with existing levels of resources.
ON DEMAND TRANSIT SYSTEM
Edmonton is now the largest city in Canada to have On Demand Transit.
Fifty-seven accessible shuttles are available for ETS riders to book trips on from 37 neighbourhoods and 16 seniors’ residences to nearby transit hubs.
On demand routes are available Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday or holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Vehicles only operate within those hours and rides cannot be booked if they either arrive or depart outside of specified service hours.
According to ETS branch manager Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, the on demand service will be tested as a pilot project for two years.
OFFICIALS ‘CONFIDENT’ REDESIGNED BUS ROUTES WILL BE WELL RECEIVED
While some residents and city councillors have expressed concerns about the new routes, ETS officials stand by the changes.
Hotton-MacDonald said that as the routes are operationalized, minor changes may be made based on feedback and data.
All buses will have counters that will track the amount of people getting on and off, and where. That data will help drive decisions on routes and frequency levels, she said.
As well, City Council will receive regular updates every six months regarded bus routes to ensure they are meeting residents’ needs.
Hotton-MacDonald said she was “confident” the system would be well-received by transit users.
Most bus routes are now classified using a general route frequency system, representing the maximum times between each scheduled trip. These include:
- Frequent routes: 15 minutes or better on weekdays and midday during weekends; 20 minutes or better during off peak times for weekends
- Rapid routes: 30 minutes or better on weekdays and during midday on weekends
- Crosstown routes: 30 minutes or better on weekdays and midday on weekends; 60 minutes or better for late evenings and during off peak times on weekends
- Local routes: 30 minutes or better on weekdays and midday on weekends
- Community routes: 60 minutes or better during midday every day of the week
Frequent routes are one digit routes travelling along main roads in central areas of Edmonton.
Crosstown routes are signified by two digits and they connect transit centres in at least two quadrants of the city.
All three digit routes operate within a specific area of the city. All rapid, local, and community routes fall into this category.
Regional routes in St. Albert, Strathcona County, Leduc, Beaumont, Fort Saskatchewan, and Spruce Grove will utilize the same numbers as before the bus network revamp.
“Transit is most successful when it’s convenient and located close to where people live, work, and play,” Iveson said. “So directing growth in our city to the nodes and corridors of density will allow more people ultimately to be well-served by mass transit, and our network will continue to evolve.”
He added that the new bus network redesign will allow for easier scalability as the city grows and demand changes.
“This is a system that we’ll be able to invest in over time with confidence,” he said.